ANNA Member Spotlight

Welcome to ANNA's monthly member spotlight. ANNA is a vibrant organization because of nurses like you! Your diverse experiences and unique perspectives make us a collective whole that is a masterpiece. We are proud of the work each of you do!

If you would like to be featured, participate in our online community, ANNA Connected. Members are featured in the Member Spotlight based on their engagement in ANNA Connected, so start connecting, talking, and getting to know other ANNA members via ANNA Connected.

Melanie Harper, RN, CNN

Central Protocol Manager
North Salt Lake, UT
Intermountain Chapter #516

How long have you been a nurse?

I have been a nurse for 27 years.

How long have you been in nephrology?

I have been in nephrology for over 26.5. years. I started shortly after graduating and walked into a unit looking for work. It was there that I met an amazing nephrology nurse practitioner, a past president of ANNA, who shared her love and passion for nephrology. She mentored me and doing so changed my life. I grew to share the same passion and love for nephrology. I became a member of ANNA in 1996, obtained my CNN in 1999, and have remained certified since that time. Over the years, I have had many roles in nephrology. My current position is in anemia management as a Central Protocol Manager with DaVita.

Why do you love nephrology?

I love nephrology because you get to develop relationships with patients and, in a sense, become family. You get to see a very ill patient become somewhat well again and watch the transformation. I love to teach and help patients and co-workers learn and in nephrology nursing, you get this opportunity almost daily.

What is unique about nephrology nursing?

Nephrology nursing is unique because it is a profession that has countless opportunities. There are so many different areas of nephrology that you can never get bored.

What is your favorite ANNA member benefit?

I love to learn and with ANNA you have the opportunity to continually learn by attending the National Symposium or the fall Nephrology Nursing Practice, Management, & Leadership Conference and by completing the free monthly educational offerings. I am not aware of another association that offers the many learning opportunities that we receive as ANNA members.

What do you value you the most about your ANNA membership?

I value the relationships I have made with my local chapter board by serving as chapter treasurer. I learn so much and admire them all. I also value the opportunity to network with peers and other nephrology nurses across the country. I love the ongoing discussions that are posted on ANNA Connected because through this dialogue, we all get to learn from each other and their experiences.

Do you have a favorite patient story?

I love to share this patient story because it made me realize that what I do really does make a difference in patients’ lives. This happened when I was working as a PD nurse. There was an amazing man in his mid 50s who had a history of uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. He was a double below-the-knee amputee. When he was younger, he was an amazing volleyball player and had played in college and professionally. He currently worked full-time laying hardwood floors for his own company. He was a very busy man!

He had a funny, witty personality and remained optimistic even when things continued to not go in his favor. He was on dialysis for about a year and was not tolerating it well. He reported feeling horrible during and after every treatment so would routinely miss at least one treatment a week. His nephrologist asked that I meet with him and talk to him about PD. I did and as soon as possible, he got the PD catheter and was trained.

PD changed his life. He no longer felt sick and was able to continue to work full-time and manage his company. During the last year on PD, his vascular system was failing and in return he had lost a couple fingers. One day he experienced horrible stomach pain and went to the emergency room. He suffered a bowel infarction and had the majority of his bowel removed. While recovering from this event, I visited him in the hospital and learned that he could not do PD any longer and had to return to hemodiaysis. He transferred out of my clinic and that was the last time I saw him.

Six months went by and I had not heard from him. Then, I received a message from him as follows. “Dear Melanie, my time has come to leave this mortal sphere and I can’t leave without telling you how much I appreciate all you’ve done for me. I appreciate your caring compassion for those you serve. You truly are an angel in disguise!”

Within 1 week, he passed away. This man taught me so much about perseverance and keeping a positive attitude. He made me realize that what I do truly does make a difference in the lives of patients, even after we are no longer their nurse.

What would you tell a newly practicing nurse about nephrology nursing?

Do it! It will be one of the best decisions of your life. Nephrology nursing is the best specialty ever!

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working as a nurse?

I enjoy exercising and learning all I can about health and nutrition. I enjoy listening to podcasts, hiking, and hanging out with my husband and daughter. I love animals and have four cats and two dogs.

Share an interesting fact about yourself.

I became an RN 1 month after turning 20. Currently, I am a foster mom for sick, young, orphaned kittens for the humane society. I have fostered over 20 kittens so far.

Go to the Member Spotlight Archive